After a five-year absence, the UEFA Champions' League returned to Lower Saxony on Wednesday evening. The VfL faithful got a chance to see their team score its first UCL goal since rejoining the competition.
A controversial late penalty nevertheless means that the spoils would ultimately be shared in a 1-1 draw.
Despite a pair of late chances from lead-striker Wout Weghorst, VfL Wolfsburg were unable to put the game to bed against visiting Sevilla on Wednesday night. An 85th minute penalty allowed visiting FC Sevilla to cancel out a Renato Steffen tally and escape from the Volkswagen Arena with a draw.
Trainer Mark van Bommel made two changes to his starting XI after the 1-3 loss to Hoffenheim on Saturday. With center halve John Anthony Brooks unavailable due to a sending off in the opening UCL group stage match against Lille, Sebastiaan Bornauw started alongside Maxence Lacroix in central defense.
Additionally, Maximilian Philipp took a seat following a rather inconsistent weekend performance. Renato Steffen took Philipp's place. Dodi Lukebakio moved in to work as a short striker behind Wout Weghorst. The team operated without a ten in a 4-4-2. Ridle Baku switched back over to the right wing with Steffen taking the left.
A combative first half yielded four bookings. Lacroix saw the first caution already in the 3rd minute. The VfL Frenchman was adjudged to have hauled Sevilla full-back Marcos Acuna down unfairly even though replays showed him only lightly catching the Argentine on the neck. There were many more easy falls from players on both teams as players sought to compel match official Georgi Kabakov to reach back for the book.
In some respects, the actors did succeed in this respect. "Suso" Fernandez de la Torre and Rafa Mir also earned yellows during the opening 45. Steffen was booked as well. Dodi Lukebakio went down in the box in the 28th after Diego Carlos inadvertently caught him on the foot. Kabakov wasn't interested, even after having an extra look via VAR.
Amid all the fouls in the first-half, both teams also kept the tempo up with plenty of flank runs and switches. Chances were nevertheless at a premium. The second half got off to a similar start, but Steffen was able to opening the scoring in the 48th. Lukebakio was able to swing out to the right and toss in a cross on a quick turn. Maximilian Arnold let the ball sail through to the dueling Wout Weghorst and Jesus Navas.
The ball bounced off the entangled players and Steffen was alert enough to finish from five meters out. S.A.D. head-coach Julian Lopetegui, who had already employed one substitution at the half, sent on two more fresh players in the 52nd as a reaction to the deficit. The changes and the goals opened up matters significantly and the sides traded chances.
The hulking Weghorst tried his hand at a surprising solo sprint at the hour mark and didn't miss by much with a nicely curved effort at the end of the run. Weghorst would get another excellent opportunity to double the home side's advantage some twelve minutes later. After flitting past two Sevilla defenders on a blitz counter, however, the Dutchman met his match in the form of keeper Bounou "Bono". The veteran collapsed his heel to save.
Instead of celebrating a decisive match-winning goal, Weghorst would find himself booked for dissent following a controversial penalty in the 85th. Former Wolfsburg captain Joshua Guilavogui cleared a ball out of the box, yet caught Erik Lamela on the way down. Kabakov awarded the spot kick after reviewing the video evidence and sent Guilavogui off on double-yellows. Former Schalke star Ivan Rakitic converted for the 1-1.
Down a man after the sending off, the hosts had to concentrate on defending during the final minutes and injury time. The Andalusian guests came close to taking all three points with a strike of the post during a late flurry. With two draws apiece Wolfsburg and Sevilla find themselves tied for second place in UCL group G. RB Salzburg sits atop the group with four points after besting Lille.
|1||Koen Casteels (C)|
|19||Kevin Mbabu ↩62|
|11||Renato Steffen ⚽ ↩74|
|9||Wout Weghorst ↩90|
|7||L. Waldschmidt ↪74|
|5||Mickey van de Ven|
|22||Felix Kalu Nmecha ↪62|
|31||Yannick Gerhardt ↪90|
|16||Jesús Navas (C)|
|19||Marcos Acuña ↩46|
|8||Joan Jordán ↩70|
|5||Lucas Ocampos ↩74|
|12||Rafa Mir ↩53|
|36||Iván Romero de Ávila Araque ↪70|
|4||Karim Rekik ↪46|
|10||Ivan Rakitić ↪53 ⚽|
|17||Erik Lamela ↪52|